Asylum cases waiting over six months for a decision have nearly doubled since February 2012

The number of pending asylum cases that have been waiting for over six months for a decision has nearly doubled since February 2012, according to figures from the government’s monthly asylum application statistics, released yesterday.

The figures show that the number of cases pending an initial decision after six months had risen to 6,342 in February 2013, compared to 3,380 in February 2012. This represents an increase of 87 percent.

The figure from this February is also a four percent increase on the number of asylum cases pending an initial decision after six months in June 2010, one month after the Coalition government came to power, when the number stood at 6,070.

The number of asylum cases pending decision after less than six months has faced an even bigger rise, increasing by 93 percent between June 2010 and February 2013, to 6,511 cases from 3,371 cases.

This is an increase of 27 percent from February 2012, when the figure stood at 5,124 cases.

The graphs linked to below represent the increased numbers of:

  • Cases pending an initial decision after six months (orange),
  • Cases pending an initial decision before or around six months (blue),
  • And the total number of cases awaiting decision (green).

Sheet 1

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Sheet 2

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Sheet 3

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Dr Russell Hargrave, of the charity Asylum Aid, said:

“The coalition promised a fairer, more efficient asylum system, with a commitment to getting decisions right first time. Early figures suggested they were making progress. But everything now points to longer delays and backlogs growing yet again. No one who flees halfway across the world to ask for help should be stuck hearing nothing for months, but that’s clearly what’s happening.

“..Tackling these delays is only right and decent for refugees, but it is also a very public test of the government’s competence”.

He highlighted two possible causes for the growing number of asylum cases waiting for long periods of time, without a clear decision:

” The UK Border Agency faced significant cuts to its personnel and to its resources, so suddenly you’ve got the same number of cases more or less being made each month, but the number of people trained to make them and the resources available to them has fallen actually.

“In the middle of that, around April and May 2012, (which is when the graphs bottom out), there’s been an attempt to bring in a whole new system for dealing with asylum claims, and the transition seems to cause delays and confusion amongst some officials that we’ve dealt with.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The system we inherited was hopelessly chaotic. We are bringing it all back under control.

“We are currently focusing on concluding the oldest outstanding asylum claims and this, coupled with an increase in the number of claims we are receiving, has meant that it is taking longer than we would hope to process some applications.

“We are working hard to address this and reduce the time it takes for applications to be processed.”


NHS waiting times story – Part 2: Pivot Tables

Pivot tables are one of the most useful tools available for speedy data analysis – luckily they’re also quite easy to use, and with a bit of playing around you soon get the hand of it. They give you a way to reconstruct the data in your spreadsheet, interrogating it and almost asking it questions.

In my last post I introduced a dataset on waiting times for treatment from NHS providers. In this post I’m going to show how I (attempt to!) analyse the data to find a story, using pivot tables.

I started with the second sheet from my last post, which showed for each of 19 different ‘treatment functions’ or areas, (such as trauma or urology) within each provider: 1. the total number of completed courses of treatment, 2. the total number of courses with a known start date, and 3. the total number with a known start date that had been completed within 18 weeks:

6 pivot tables 2

18 weeks is the benchmark time limit for completing patient treatment, enshrined in the NHS constitution. It’s a target that was also reiterated by David Cameron in the summer of 2011 as part of his five NHS pledges.

So, subtracting the comments of each cell in column BK (treatments completed within 18 weeks) from its counterpart cell in column BJ (total number of completed courses of treatment) – ought to give us the number of completed treatments that were not completed within an 18-week period.

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NHS waiting times story – Part 1: Filters

I had a quick go at pulling a few quick stories from a dataset from the NHS’s 2012-13 sets of data on treatment waiting times.

The data that I’m interested in shows the average waiting time for treatment at each of the hospitals listed.

2 Spreadsheet overview

On a separate sheet, it also shows for each of 19 different medical departments within each provider:

  1. The number of completed courses of treatment (completed pathways), it total.
  2. The total number of completed courses of treatment (completed pathways) where the date at which the clock started ticking is known -i.e. where it was recorded.
  3. The total number of courses of treatment with a known clock start date which were completed within 18 weeks.

1 Spreadsheet overview

On this sheet, the difference between the columns showing number 2 and number 3 (which are columns BI and BJ in the picture above), tells us the number of completed courses of treatment that took longer than 18 weeks.

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